Aldermen to vote on whether to authorize historic cabin’s move to city park

Foundation will work with Crestwood to move historic cabin to city park

A+black-and-white+photo+submitted+in+the+1980s+to+the+National+Register+of+Historic+Places+of+the+Joseph+Sappington+Cabin.

Photo by Esley Hamilton

A black-and-white photo submitted in the 1980s to the National Register of Historic Places of the Joseph Sappington Cabin.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

Hopes to bring a historic log cabin to Crestwood are still alive after the Crestwood Board of Aldermen heard a proposal earlier this month to reassemble the Joseph Sappington Log Cabin on the Thomas Sappington House Historic Site. 

The Board of Aldermen first heard a proposal Sept. 14 whether or not to reimburse up to $125,000 toward the cabin’s move as well as to permit the nonprofit Sappington House Foundation to assemble the cabin on the Sappington House property in Crestwood. Joseph Sappington was a cousin of Thomas Sappington. 

The Board of Aldermen is set to read the proposal for a second time at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Crestwood City Hall.

The Sappington Cabin has been an ongoing matter in the city since March, when the cabin’s owner first offered to donate it to the city if Crestwood would cover the moving costs. The 1816 cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Since then, there have been several discussions regarding the cabin’s move, as well as requests for proposals from contractors who could execute the move.

The city ultimately decided the bids it had received for the move were too high to pursue; however the Sappington House Foundation reached out to Antique Logs Unlimited, one of the respondents to the RFP, who said they would be willing to work with the foundation to move the structure with appropriate authorization from the city.

Much of the discussion at the Sept. 14 aldermen meeting centered on that authorization. 

“I strongly support moving the incredibly important 1816 Joseph Sappington log house from its current, very endangered location and situation to the safety of the Thomas Sappington park in Crestwood. … The results will be well worth the costs and efforts by many,” Brian Kolde said during public comment, reading a letter he had previously submitted to the mayor. Kolde is a local historian and works as a neighborhood improvement specialist in St. Louis. “To have two houses associated with the very important Sappington Family, which was truly the founding family of Crestwood and the adjacent areas … would beautifully demonstrate the two different architectural approaches used by earlier American pioneer families in the area.” 

The Sappington Foundation has raised several thousand dollars toward the cabin’s move and contributed $26,000 in April for the city to conduct a study about what it would take to move the cabin in the first place.

The proposed agreement stresses the city would not contribute anything more than $125,000 to the project unless utility relocation costs exceed $50,000, in which event the city and foundation would split the cost evenly.

The foundation would also be responsible for all future repairs and maintenance of the cabin and have agreed to pay a higher rent per the lease agreement with the city.

“We’ve been talking about this for a while. The bids to relocate the house in their entirety were beyond the city’s means to cover. … Subsequent conversations have brought about the ordinance before the board – that the city would be a major contributor and the fundraising efforts of the Sappington House Foundation … the hope was between now and the end of next year, additional fundraising would materialize” to pay to move the cabin, Mayor Grant Mabie said. 

Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau was concerned about the liabilities the city could incur if the cabin was moved but not fully reassembled, or if the foundation did not maintain the necessary maintenance on the structure.

“What happens if this takes 10 years and … at what point does the city’s liability to take over a project that’s … half completed,” Charboneau questioned. “If any of those properties aren’t being taken care of … we have to reinvest into the properties to keep them and maintain them. … So now …. I’m envisioning … if the project is not completed or not done in a reasonable amount of time … the city’s going to have to get back involved. … There’s no way the city won’t be involved with this in the future.” 

Several other aldermen expressed their support for the partnership. Ward 3 Alderman Scott Shipley said that while it was a sizeable investment for the city, it was worth it for the historical value and contribution to the city’s overall comprehensive plan. 

 “To me it is (worth it). I think as it was stated, this building will basically be rebuilt as new which is better than we were looking at before,” said Shipley. “It will actually enhance the park. … I think the fact that it’s here in Crestwood … provides historical value.” 

 Part of Phase 2 of the project would require the cabin to be rebuilt with a new front porch and upgraded, quality materials where needed. 

“I want to thank city staff. It was a lot of work. … They put a lot of time and effort into it and I saw that behind the scenes. I also am a proponent of historic preservation,” said Ward 3 Alderman Greg Hall. “I like the enthusiasm. … I’m ready to take that leap of faith and work together.”  

 The ordinance was read for a first time at the Board of Aldermen meeting Sept. 14, and was slated for a second reading Sept. 28. Crestwood requires a unanimous vote of the board to suspend the rules to conduct a second reading of a bill at the same meeting it is introduced — the board voted 6-1 Sept. 14 to suspend the rules for a second reading. Charboneau was the sole dissenting vote while Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter was absent.